Awakened, early in the morning, by head-splitting jackhammer noise, which was not soon over but persisted through the day, my first guess was that I had died, and gone to Hell. It reverberated through the building, so that tenants I spoke with, from much other parts, were also convinced it was coming from the flat just above them, as well as from next door, next other door, across the hallway, and from the flat below. “Modern life,” I then diagnosed.

Our landlord, reputed to live in Switzerland, was not available for comment. Did we ask him to make cosmetic changes to our balconies? No, gentle reader.

I do not live in Beirut, incidentally; and given my druthers, might choose Bhutan. (Except it is also “modernizing,” I gather.) It seems our building management has awarded the contract to a Roumanian comedy team, to redesign our balconies, which may have looked “out-of-date.” This has the advantage that it may justify city bureaucrats in awarding the landlord permission to increase our rents. It is an immense and cumbersome bureaucracy; possibly too complicated to bribe.

Well, one balcony down, one hundred and nineteen to go. The building manager estimates the job will be completed by some time late in the Spring of a future year, “if all goes well.”

Meanwhile, we were told to clear our balconies thoroughly, and immediately, of their furniture, little gardens, &c. Then we were given 48 hours to have air conditioners removed, too, or workmen would do this for us — dispose of the machines, bill us for costs, &c. We are further instructed to keep windows and balcony doors tight shut through the heat waves, against the swirling debris within this construction project. The memos, which always end with a pro forma apology for “any inconvenience,” start with threats and penalties if we don’t do what they are about to “recommend.”

My diagnosis was correct.

Is it just my impression, or is every little shit determined to create his own parallel to the Batflu crisis, so that he may dole out threats and punishments, like the pros? Or enhance the background clusterfuck in his own unique way? (Excuse my Gaelic.)

I shouldn’t have called them a “Roumanian comedy team.” I’m not sure they’re Roumanian.